Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas Decorating

I figured that since I was decorating the house for Christmas, that I'd do the same for my blog. The picture at the top is the king of the house, Alsley. He was laying on his pillow sunning himself this morning. It was a bit cool for him and he suffers from back problems and gets very stiff when he is cold. Desipite being 13, he is so regal - I wonder what he was thinking (?) Oh well - guess I will never know.

We put up the Christmas Tree at my youngest daughter's house (along with the tree skirt I finished a few days ago). Em was absolutely mesmerized - she was so excited that she could hardly contain herself when we turned the lights on. She put all her ornaments around the lower part of the tree, so they're handy when she decides to rearrange them. My daughter took pictures, but I don't have any to post yet (rats!)
I came home and put up my small tree and the Nativity set that belonged to my mother when she was little. After polishing off some Thanksgiving leftovers, I finished making a couple of flannel pillowcases to go with this flannel quilt that I made back in January for my daughter and Em. I'm listening to Christmas music and enjoying a peaceful evening - it is wonderful!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

*Whew* The Christmas Tree is up

Says she with a wily grin ;^>

Yes - this is my Christmas Tree - I live in Florida and this is about as close to a real tree as I am going to get. Some of you may remember my quest to find the pattern to make this paper pieced quilt. I ran down all sorts of leads only to find out that it is out of print now and all the leads turned out to be dead ends. So, what else could I do but go ahead and buy the quilt (it was hanging in the back of one of our local quilt shops)? I am so happy with it and it's a snap to put up and take down. Also, on the couch I put that fabulous
Christmas quilt that my best friend and quilting buddy made for my birthday present.

Best of all, a cool front (they're calling it cold front - ha! says the girl from New Hampshire - it's going to be in the 60's) has moved in and made the temperatures much more tolerable than normal. I'm a happy camper tonight.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Please - if you haven't already done so - hop over to Karen Griska's blog to see the Thanksgiving Prayer she has posted. It is so important for us to know how much we are blessed this time of year. Last night I caught myself thinking about all the stuff I had to do to get dinner ready and feeling a bit grumpy. I am so blessed to have plenty of food to serve my family who are all healthy and employed. I have only to be thankful for all the blessings our family has received. This prayer certainly puts things in perspective. Please have a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tree Skirt - Done!

I took a picture of the tree skirt indoors first since almost all the charms have gold metallic in them, sometimes it doesn't show up well in the daylight. Then I took it outside to snap a picture out there too. I don't know why I never made a tree skirt for our tree when the girls were young, I guess I just never found the time. The ones I saw in the stores were either cheesy and affordable, or beautiful and way out of reach financially. Maybe I'll tackle one for next Christmas for my house, but this one is destined for Em's tree :)

Kelley came over last night and we trimmed her quilt and got the binding sewed on, so she's on her way to finishing it and I think she's quite pleased - the quilt is so pretty.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Finally got up enough nerve

To slice into the baby charms quilt made from all those Christmas charms. I slit up the back and used a CD to cut out the hole for the Christmas Tree. This year we'll get to witness Christmas through Em's eyes - a two and a half year old sees things that most of us that have been around for half a century or so don't even notice. Everything is new, exciting, and filled with wonder and awe when you're a two year old and I love it. I'm going to her school's Thanksgiving pageant tomorrow and taking my Mother - it should be so cute :)

Back to the tree skirt. I made the binding and the ties and then sewed them on last night and I'm about 1/3 the way done with the binding; however, I probably should have taken the time to make bias binding. The hole in the center created a little bit of an obstacle for me since I just made standard binding on the fabric straight of grain. However since this part will be up under the tree, I went ahead and just made a couple little pleaty gathery parts so I can get the binding sewn down around the circle. Here's a peek.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Playing with new fabric

There was a package waiting for me when I got home tonight and I am thrilled with my new toys. I got four charm packs of Moda Panache by Sanae on sale for $3.99 each (as well as a bunch of other fabrics that were on sale)! Oh how I love a great deal! I'm going to save myself right into the poor house *sigh*

I've been wanting to do a different kind of baby quilt that is more modern for one of my oldest daughter's friends, and this fabric fits the bill. Two bloggers in particular have really inspired me for attempting something more modern and edgy, Crazy Mom Quilts who has featured a great stacked coins baby quilt on her blog, and FilmintheFridge (Ashley) who creates the most gorgeous modern quilts. I think I'm going to do a stacked coins quilt using these Panache charms. I cut up one of the charm packs and started stacking the pieces to get an idea of what it might look like. Since the colors in these charms are pretty strong, I'm not planning to use white sashing, but rather one of those Kona cotton solid colors that will provide a nice background to compliment these. Hmmm...I think I'm REALLY going to like these charms for this quilt. I can't start working on it though until I finish the tree skirt which is coming along quite nicely if I may say so myself.
11/18 update 8:57 a.m. EST
I was looking at the Kona Cotton Solids and I think I'm going to have to go try and see if I can find some of the Ochre color - I think that might do the trick. In any case, I'll have to see it in person before I order it. Eventually, I'm going to have to get one of those color cards, but I think I'll wait until the next one comes out since 2009 is almost over. I wonder how often the names of the colors get changed, or do they stay the same year after year? Do any of you happen to know?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Easy Schmeasy Pillowcase Tutorial

Remember when I mentioned that one of the women at our latest Sew Fest showed us a much easier way to make pillowcases? Well, I thought that I'd share a tutorial. Pillowcases are not only fun to make, but they also require just a small amount of fabric, and they make great Christmas gifts (especially Christmas-themed pillowcases for children to use Christmas Eve). So here goes

For a standard pillowcase, I cut the main pillowcase body fabric (shown in the gold fabric) 25"- 27" long (Width of Fabric – WOF). The piping strip (shown in the red) is 1.75" WOF. The outer edge (shown in the print) is 12" - 13" WOF.

Start by pressing your piping strip in half length-wise.

Lay your outer edge fabric flat and right side up. Then lay your pressed piping strip aligning raw edges with outer edge fabric as shown.

Next, lay your main body fabric, right side down facing the outer edge fabric, and aligning raw edge with others. Pin, pin, pin – you need to be sure none of the layers shift while you sew them together. Baste layers together using ¼" seam allowance or less.  Some people skip the basting and just roll up the body fabric as in the next step, pin and sew all the layers together in one step, but I prefer to baste here and then proceed as it lessens the chance of a layer slipping out of place while you're sewing. 

Lay the fabric out with the outer edge at the bottom (like it was when you started). Fold the main body fabric almost in half making sure the free edge stays clear of the sewn edge by a couple of inches. Roll the main body fabric up to the point where you can pull the outer edge fabric up and over the rolled main body fabric. It will be right side down and the raw edge aligned with the other raw edges that were basted together.

Pin, pin, pin again to keep everything aligned while sewing.

It will look like this if you peek into the end of the pillowcase at this point.
Stitch using a slightly larger seam allowance. Since I used ¼" to baste the layers together, I am using 3/8" to stitch. You need to stitch, not baste here. In the picture below, I am sewing two pillowcases in assembly line fashion. You can see what the pillowcase that has already been sewn looks like as I hold the end open.

Now turn the pillowcase out through one of the ends.

Both sides of the outer edge are neatly sewn together and the raw edges are nicely enclosed. No need to turn under 1/2" and trying to blindly sew the outer edge to the inside of the pillowcase like some patterns have you do.


Now you can do any topstitching or decorative stitching. I usually at least top stitch the piping so it doesn't curl. As you can see, I am a fan of using a zipper foot for topstitching because Lord knows I can't sew a straight line and the zipper foot sits up against the seam perfectly J

Once you have done all the top stitching/decorative stitching you would like to do, you can trim off the selvages.

Now you are ready to sew the bottom and side seams using a French seam.
VERY IMPORTANT!!!! Make sure you sew your first seams with the fabric RIGHT sides facing OUT (wrong sides together). This runs contrary to years and years of sewing seam right sides together I know. I can't tell you how many times I have had to rip seams out because I do this incorrectly.
Make sure you pin really, really well where the outer edges and piping meet so everything lines up nicely.

I use ¼" seam for this step and take a few back stitches at all the corners. Trim the corners so they won't be bulky.

Now turn the pillowcase so right sides are together and wrong sides are out. Stitch the seams again using a larger seam allowance. I use a 5/8" seam allowance because you need a good amount of clearance for getting around all the bulk where all the seams meet between the main body fabric and the outer edge. Also, at this point, if you use a fine needle in your sewing machine you might want to switch to a heavier needle – you are going to be sewing over a LOT of layers of fabric!
Turn the pillow case out and…


Friday, November 13, 2009

Another Quilt Done!

Bet you all know which one..

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Ha Ha - just kidding! The people who know me well will tell you that I'm never wordless :)

I've got two sides of the binding sewn down - it's taking me 2 1/2 to 3 hours per side (each one is 105" long). I can't wait to put this on my bed. I've been blogging about this quilt since last Spring - my first post was about this quilt for Pete's sake. I'm making some matching pillowcases, and last weekend at sew fest one of our friends showed us a much easier way of making them. They go together in a snap!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What happens when...

You're sitting there with your friends at a sewfest and your best friend and quilting buddy (BF&QB) says, "I need to go to the quilt shop for a yard of fabric. Who wants to go with me?" Well, you can't make her go by herself now can you? Of course not.

We get to the fabric store (remember - to pick up one yard of fabric), and find all Kaffe Fassett fabrics are $4.99 a yard. Two hours and 22.5 yards of fabric later (just my purchase mind you - BF&QB had even more) we concluded that when we go to a quilt shop together, we are like a couple of drunks in a liquor store. We need a chaperone when we go to any store where there is even a remote possibility that fabric could be for sale.

Naturally, we decided that we would split up a lot of our purchases - we'd by a one yard cut and then when we got back to the house, we could cut them in half and swap (we wound up swapping 1/2 yards of 10 of the one-yard cuts each). Then, we decided that we might as well buy fabrics for backing, borders, and binding. Of course, I spied a couple of bolts that were just about gone, so - what the heck - might as well finish the bolt when that happens, right? So it went.

As far as sew fest is concerned, I have managed to finish 20 strip tubing blocks using the kiwiberry bali pops and should be able to finish 20 more tomorrow - so I'll be about 2/3 done by the end of the day tomorrow. I also managed to whip up another pillowcase for Em using some Kitty Cucumber fabric that was left over from her first birthday quilt. The yellow fabric was a little brighter than I wanted, but the pattern matches the yellow dresses some of the kitties are wearing :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Off to pick up

Roman Holiday at the quilter - can't wait to see it and finish it up. Going to a sewfest at my best friend and quilting buddy's house this weekend and am planning to work on the Strip Tubing quilt and make the blocks from 160 Hoffman Bali Pop Kiwiberry strips. I also need to quilt the Christmas tree skirt.

The weather has cooled off just a bit, so I decided to put a fall quilt on my bed. This was made using a group of Kansas Troubles fat quarters and pattern picked up at Quilting by the Sea in Langley, Washington in 2008. I'm so glad that we were able to go to this fabulous shop before it closes this year :(

The quilting done on this quilt was beautiful - the pattern is called "Trip through New England" - it consists of various kinds of leaves and acorns. Being a New England girl at heart - it takes my breath away!

When I finished this quilt and put it on my bed, I really didn't care for it much, I think because it is very dark. However, I've grown very fond of it over time and it looks like autumn. This is a huge quilt - about 140" long. I had a row of blocks left over and so put it on the back at the top of the quilt (you can see it in the picture where I have the corner turned down). Happy quilting everybody!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Favorite Family Dinner Recipe Exchange

I'm participating in Amy from ParkCityGirl's Family Dinner Recipe Exchange. If you have a favorite that the family just begs for, post your recipe and then hop on over to her site and post a link. The more, the merrier.

I got this off recipezaar. A long time ago when I was first married I made Chicken Enchiladas from a recipe out of the red plaid covered Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Somewhere along the line, the cookbook disappeared, but this recipe that I found online is as close as I've come to the original recipe I used. I have made a few changes to the one posted to suit my family. It is definitely a family favorite (even Em loves it). It is not diet food.

Chicken Enchiladas Recipe #23052
by Wendy N
4 servings
55 min 15 min prep
8-10 Flour tortillas
1/2 cup chopped green onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 (8 ounce) carton sour cream
2 cups all natural chicken broth (no msg for me - usually I just stew the chicken and then I have my own all natural broth)
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chili peppers drained
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese (I like pepper jack for some extra kick)
2 cups chicken, cooked and chopped

black olives (optional - I don't use these in mine)

tomatoes (optional - I don't use these in mine)

Wrap tortillas in foil and heat in 350* oven for 10 minutes to soften (only if they're not already soft enough to do the wrapping).
For Sauce: In a saucepan, cook onion, garlic, coriander, and pepper in the butter until the onion is tender.
Stir the flour into the sour cream, and then add to the onion mixture.
Stir in broth and chili peppers all at once.
Cook and stir until thick and bubbly.
Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 C of the cheese.
For Filling: Stir 1/2 C of the sauce into the chicken, mixing well.
Place about 2-3 soup-spoon-size of mixture on each tortilla and roll up.
Arrange rolls, seam side down, in a lightly greased 13 x 9 baking dish.
Top with remaining sauce.
Bake, covered, in 350* oven for 35 minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake, uncovered, 5 minutes more until cheese melts.
Let stand 10 minutes.
If Desired: garnish tops with olives and tomatoes.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

2nd Post Today - Kitty Boo Table Topper

I made this last year for my daughter and granddaughter. It was a kit from Keepsake Quilting and I thought it was just adorable. It was a little more complicated than most of the things I do, but I figured since it was a table topper, it was manageable even for me :) I totally love the vintage-y border fabric and the prairie points - they really make it.

Two completed quilt tops

First, Kelley finished her first quilt top and backing, so she was off yesterday to take it to be quilted. I forgot to take a picture of the backing, but it just so happens that there is some fabric left over, so that should suffice. You'll notice that I included a picture of the selvage - hmmmm :) She said yesterday that she can't wait to see her daughter's face when she gives it to her. I told her that giving it away is the best part of making a quilt - it is truly a labor of love and it's like giving a hug away that will last for generations, isn't it?

I finished the top for the Christmas tree skirt, it needs a good pressing, but here it is. I think I'm going to go ahead and get it quilted first and then I'll mark where I'm going to cut it and stay stitch to each side and then slice up the back and cut out the hole for the tree. I wonder how big to make the hole. The size of a CD? What do you think? She has an artificial tree for now, but I figure when Em gets older, she might want to get a real one. It will have ties so it can be adjusted bigger if need be.